Category: Real Estate

Buying A House With Solar Panels

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Is buying a home with solar panels the right choice for you? Currently, solar power accounts for just 3.9 percent of total U.S. electricity generation, but that number is rapidly growing. Ultimately, there are a few things to consider when determining if the house you are shopping for should be equipped with solar panels or not.

Resale value

According to Zillow, homes with solar panels sell for 1.4 percent more than homes without them. They’re also viewed similarly to upgraded kitchens or remodeled bathrooms, because they increase a home’s value.

Solar panels save money

The amount of money you’ll be saving will depend on the amount of solar power you generate, local utility rates, and how much energy the utility pays you for when you return it to the power grid. If your solar panels are leased, how much you save will also be dependent on the lease terms.

When buying a house with solar panels, you can check what you could save on monthly utility bills with The National Utility Rate Database. This database allows you to look up current electricity rates in areas around the country.

Lease or own the solar panels

If you’re considering buying a house with solar panels, you’ll want to ask if they are leased or owned. Owning the solar panels on your house is the best financial decision since solar panel lessees save less than those who purchase them outright.

You might save some money up front with a lease, but you may lose that advantage when buying a home with existing leased panels. When leasing solar panels, homeowners can lose control of just how many panels are placed on their roof and where, since the leasing company will be focused on maximizing its own bottom line.

Furthermore, a lease term for solar panels is generally 20 years. That means if you’re buying a home that has years left on the solar lease, you, as the home buyer, become the lessee.

Amount of maintenance

Solar panels basically do their thing with little effort on your part. With this in mind, you’ll want to make sure to protect your investment. With proper solar panel care, they can last up to 30 years!

You’ll need to clean the panels to keep them going. That means scraping off dirt and debris a couple times per year and after storms that may leave them covered in debris. Cleaning will ensure the panels get plenty of sunlight to work efficiently. You may also want to hire a professional annually for an inspection to make sure the panels are functioning as they should.

Never Skip The Home Inspection

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When you’re buying a house, especially during a hot market, it may be tempting to forego certain steps to expedite the process. Waiving a home inspection, however, is never going to be a good idea. Here are some reasons why you should never skip the home inspection.

Weakened Negotiations

After a home inspection is completed, the buyer can reevaluate their offer, renegotiate the terms or even pull out. More than 80% of home prices are negotiated at least twice when they include a home inspection. If you forego this process, you also forfeit the opportunity to readjust the price of the home, which can greatly reflect both the condition of the home and any future repair costs.

Costly Repairs

A home inspection provides an overall report of the current condition of a home, including its systems, appliances, foundation and more, as well as letting a buyer know what repairs will be necessary. If you skip the the home inspection, you risk letting both minor and major issues go undetected, and any repair costs will come out of your pocket.

Insurance

Without a report, your insurance company may not cover pre-existing issues discovered after purchase without a home inspection. This means you will likely have to pay out of pocket for any repairs.

Safety Hazards

Home inspectors note any health and safety hazards. Without this, you may not be aware of potentially dangerous conditions. Issues such as outdated electrical wiring, deteriorating pipes or structural damage, such as a cracked foundation, can put you at serious risk. An inspector will identify these issues and give you information on how to fix or replace items and areas as needed.

Peace of Mind

A completed home inspection paints a picture of not only the condition of a home, but also the overall value, which can help buyers when it comes to negotiation and costs. Without the details of a home’s condition, you may feel anxious and uncertain. Whether an inspection brings up a lot of issues and problems with a home, or if it yields only a few, you will have the opportunity to walk away or move forward knowing everything necessary about your new house.

Things To Look For When Buying Your First House

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Real estate newbies are so excited when purchasing their first home that they often overlook key aspects of the property before signing on the dotted line. Sometimes wearing those rose-colored glasses can have costly outcomes making the dream of owning their first house become more like a nightmare. To assure your story has a happy ending, here are some items to consider before it becomes an expensive mistake.

Possible structural, electrical and plumbing issues

An experienced home inspector should spot structural concerns, but to make sure the hired professional doesn’t neglect crawl spaces, chimneys, and other hard-to-access areas, the buyer should be present at the time of the inspection. Also, if the home has a chimney you may want a dedicated chimney cleaning company to take a look at what may be going on inside. During the inspection, make sure the electrical panel, water heater and HVAC system is in working order. Overlooking these necessary components of the house can be extremely costly if you are the one stuck with the repair bill.

Use of space and position of fixtures

Nothing can be more frustrating than realizing afteryou move into your new home that the light fixtures are off-centered and this “open-floor” concept may be a little too open. Slow down and scrutinize every room. Take careful notes of all fixture oddities. Imagine your furniture in this new space eliminating the possibility of your furniture being swallowed by the huge room and stealing the desired coziness.

Closet space

Don’t underestimate the space required to store all that you own now and could possibly in the near future. A good tip is to measure the closet space you currently have and see if it’s the same or more. Ultimately, if you buy a house that is lacking in this department, you may be left with no other option than stealing valuable space from somewhere else in the home or possibly adding onto or building a new closet later, which will not be cheap.

Noise levels of the neighborhood

Determining how picturesque your new neighborhood is can be easily seen but it’s very hard to know how peaceful the area sounds with just a few tours. Go visit the area during a week day and the weekend at different times of the day. Roll down those windows and observe. You’ll get a better sense of any traffic noise, loud neighbors and how many people park on the roads or pass by. There is no cheap fix to living behind a fire station or next to boisterous neighbors.

Buying a home is expensive! It’s in your best interest during the homebuying process to make sure these items are looked for and addressed prior to taking the plunge.

Things To Know If You’re Still Renting

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As a renter, you face the same question on some sort of recurring basis (depending on your lease tenure): keep renting for another year or purchase a home? Your answer obviously depends on your current situation and future plans, but there are a number of benefits to homeownership every renter needs to consider. Here are a few things you should think about before you settle on renting for another year.

Rents Are Rising

Rent increasing each year isn’t new. Looking back at Census data confirms rental prices have gone up consistently for decades. If you’re a renter, you’re faced with payments that continue to climb each year. It’s important to keep this in mind when the time comes for you to sign a new lease, as your monthly rental payment may increase substantially when you do.

Building Equity

One of the most significant advantages of buying a home is the wealth you build through equity. This year alone, homeowners gained a substantial amount of equity, which, in turn, grew their net worth. As a renter, you miss out on this wealth-building tool that can be used to fund your retirement, buy a bigger home, downsize, or even achieve personal goals like paying for an education or starting a new business.

Feeling Like Home

This is a big decision-making point if you want to be able to paint, renovate, and make home upgrades. In many cases, your property owner determines these selections and prefers you don’t alter them as a renter. As a homeowner, you have the freedom to decorate and personalize your home to truly make it your own.

Flexibility

You may choose to rent because you feel it provides greater flexibility if you need to move for any reason. While it’s true that selling a home may take more time than finding a new rental, it’s important to note how quickly houses are selling in today’s market. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average home is only on the market for 17 days. That means you may have more flexibility than you think if you need to relocate as a homeowner.

Ways To Utilize Your Home Equity

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Your equity is a powerful tool that can help you achieve your goals as a homeowner. And chances are, your equity grew substantially over the past year. According to the latest Equity Insights Report from CoreLogic, homeowners gained an average of $51,500 in equity over the past year. If you’re looking for the best ways to use your growing equity, here are some options:

Buy A Bigger Home

If you’re finding you no longer have the space you need, it might be time to move into a larger home. Or, it’s possible you have too much space and would like something smaller. No matter the situation, consider using your equity to power a move into a home that fits your changing lifestyle. Moving into a larger home can provide extra space for remote work or loved ones. Downsizing, on the other hand, may mean saving time and money by caring for a smaller home.

Relocate

If the size of your home isn’t a challenge but your current location is, it could be time to relocate to a new area. Maybe you enjoy vacationing in the mountains, at the beach, or another area, and you’re dreaming of living there year-round. Or perhaps the distance between you and your loved ones is greater than you’d like, and you want to close the gap. No matter what, your home equity can fuel your move to the location where you really want to live.

Start A Business

If you’re not ready to move into a new home, you can use your equity to invest in a new business venture. While it’s not recommended that homeowners use their equity for unnecessary spending, leveraging your equity to start a business that you’re passionate about can potentially grow your nest egg further.

Higher Education

Whether you have a loved one preparing to head off to college or you’re planning to go back to school yourself, the thought of paying for higher education can be daunting. In either situation, using a portion of your growing equity can help with those costs, so you can make an investment in someone’s future.

Should We Wait Till After The Wedding To Buy A House?

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Lately, more and more couples want to experience what it’s like to live together prior to getting married. For many it makes sense to jump right in, stop renting and buy a house-but does it really? There are a few things unmarried couples need to consider before making one of the most important financial decisions of their lives.

Can’t we do both?

The average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is around $29,000. That is a substantial amount of money. Buying a house is also a huge expense….one that can drain finances. It is crucial for you and your partner to decide which is more important right now. If buying a house before getting married is your goal, there are still many things to consider.

How’s your credit?

If you buy a house before marriage, your finances will more than likely be examined individually. In the best-case scenario, you and your partner both have excellent credit and can secure a loan. But if one of you has poor credit, it may be better to buy a house after marriage to increase the likelihood of obtaining a loan. Once you’re married, the individual with better credit has the option of applying for the loan on his or her own.

Still paying on student loans?

One of the biggest obstacles for young couples looking to purchase their first home is outstanding student loan debt. The amount you owe affects your credit score which, in turn, will affect the loan amount you get approved for and the interest rates that follow. Depending on your situation, it may be in your best interest to focus on paying off student loan debts – and your wedding – prior to purchasing a home.

What are your state laws?

If owning a home together is a high priority in your relationship, you’ll want to research state laws. Some states do not allow couples to share legal ownership of a home if not legally wed.

Many components go into the decision of buying a house before you say “I do!”. Love and commitment aside, there are legal and financial concerns that should be considered to ensure that you make the best choice together.

Keys To Selling Your Home Quickly

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Let’s be clear…it’s a great time to sell your home. Inventory is low, resulting in higher asking prices…and mortgage rates are historically low allowing buyers more purchasing power. That doesn’t mean that all homes sell immediately or for top dollar. Despite what you may read or hear, buyers are still picky…within reason…but rightfully so. By concentrating on just a few key things it’s possible to minimize the time your property spends sitting on the market. From improving curb appeal to removing excess clutter, here are several things that can help you to improve property values, attract potential buyers, and ensure a profitable sale.

Curb Appeal

Curb appeal is never a concern that should be taken lightly. Your home’s exterior appearance, landscaping and general exterior appearance all play a key role in ensuring that potential buyers are more likely to form a positive first impression. From listing photos to the first glimpse that buyers will have when they pull up to the curb, a few improvements can make a major difference.

Interior Upgrades

Home improvements and renovations can boost property value and help to ensure a quicker, less stressful sale. While a few upgrades can be well worth the effort and expense, it’s wise to stay focused and avoid going overboard in your efforts. A few small projects are often easier to manage and of greater benefit than larger efforts that have the potential to get out of hand.

A Good Agent

An experienced real estate agent is not a resource you will want to be without. Working with a professional who has a better understanding of the market as well as the tools, experience and skills needed to manage the sales process can provide a wide range of advantages. Homeowners who elect to go it alone could soon find themselves faced with an uphill battle.

No Clutter

Removing excess clutter and making an effort to depersonalize your home’s interior can help to ensure that buyers are provided with the blank canvas they need in order to better visualize the full potential of the space. Having less clutter within the home makes it much easier to prepare for property tours and open house events. Dealing with clutter now also means having less to pack up when it comes time to move to your new home.

Another Reason To Stop Renting And Buy A House

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If you are a first time homebuyer or just thinking about getting back into the market after a brief hiatus, your timing couldn’t be better! Yes, it’s a big step that requires some upfront costs, but the long-term benefits more than make up for itin the end. Aside from having a place to call your own and enjoying the several investment and tax perks that home ownership allows, it may actually be cheaper now than renting.

The Rental Affordability Report for 2021 that was produced by the nation’s premier property database, ATTOM Data Solutions, showed that owning a median-priced three-bedroom home was more affordable than renting a three-bedroom property in over 60% of the 915 U.S. counties analyzed for the report. That’s pretty shocking when you consider that, over the past year, median home prices have increased more than the average cost of rent in 83% of those counties, and have risen more than the wages in about two-thirds of the nation.

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Home ownership has become more affordable in many housing markets thanks to noticeably declining interest rates (sometimes dropping below 3%) and the already high cost of renting. Although in many highly populated cities of over 1 million people, this may not be the case since the demand for space is far greater and sometimes just unattainable.

In the words of ATTOM Chief Product Officer Todd Teta, “The housing market boom of the past decade keeps pushing home values to a new record. Yet home ownership still remains the more affordable option for average workers in a majority of the country because it makes up a smaller portion of their pay.”

“The coming year is totally uncertain, amid so many questions connected to the Coronavirus pandemic and the broader economy. But right now, owning a home still appears to be a financially-sound choice for those who can afford it.”

After all, what better way to ring in the new year than with a space to call your own?

Homeowners Gained $56,700 in Equity on Average

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While it can be overlooked often times, a homeowner’s equity helps build long-term wealth over time. So, as home values climb, your equity does too. That’s exactly what’s happening today. There aren’t enough homes on the market to meet buyer demand, so bidding wars and multiple offers are driving prices up. That’s because people are willing to pay more to buy a home. Right now, this low supply and high demand are giving current homeowners a significant equity boost.

Dr. Frank Nothaft, Chief Economist at CoreLogic, explains: “Home price growth is the principal driver of home equity creation. The CoreLogic Home Price Index reported home prices were up 17.7% for the past 12 months ending September, spurring the record gains in home equity wealth.” According to latest Homeowner Equity Insights from CoreLogic, the average homeowner’s equity has grown by $56,700 over the last 12 months.

Curious how your state stacks up? Check out the map below to find out the average equity gain for your area.

Maui home equity

If you’re already a homeowner, equity not only builds your wealth, it also opens doors for you to achieve your goals. It works like this: when you sell your house, the equity you built up comes back to you in the sale. You can use those proceeds to fuel your next move, especially if you’ve decided your needs have changed and you’re looking for something new.

If you’re thinking about becoming a homeowner, understanding the importance of equity can help you realize why homeownership is a worthwhile goal. It builds your wealth and gives you peace of mind that your investment is a wise one, not just from a lifestyle perspective, but from a financial one too.

First Home Buying Tips

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It’s an adventure when you’re ready to go house hunting. It’s even more exciting when you are ready to search for your first home. Whether you’re moving out of your parent’s house, or you have been renting and are ready to finally own your own place, you’re taking a big step in life. Here are some helpful tips which will make buying your first home a positive experience.

Budget Wisely

Far too many people make the mistake of buying a home that is beyond their means. This only adds stress to their lives and can even lead to moving out if the mortgage is too much to handle. Sit down and work out your budget. Look at all of your monthly expenses and remember that you’ll want to continue to set aside savings for a rainy day. Once you see how much is left for a mortgage payment, give yourself some wiggle room.

Location, Location, Location

If you’re going to take the plunge as a first-time homebuyer, be strategic about your search. What area calls to you? A great price or a beautiful home will not be enough if you’re unhappy with the location. Consider the school district if you have children and think about access to your favorite stores. Figure out if you want neighbors nearby or if you would prefer your own space. Perhaps most importantly, decide if you’re comfortable with the quality of the surrounding area you’re moving to. This will help you to trim down your list of potential homes.

Establish Financing

This may be the most important tip in obtaining your first home…make sure you have your financing in order before you go home shopping. Seek out a licensed mortgage professional in your area and begin the pre-qualification process. Getting pre-approved before you start looking at homes is extremely important in the event you decide to write an offer on one. In the competitive housing market we’re currently in, offers from pre-qualified buyers go to the front of the line.